Babylonian Astronomy


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Tablet.jpg (66947 bytes) The ancient Babylonians kept detailed astronomical records, engraving them on clay tablets.

They could certainly predict eclipses long before the Seluecid period and even knew when there would be an eclipse that they could not actually see.

Stephenson, Yau and Hunger looked at fragments of clay tablets containing their records from this time and found clear evidence that the Babylonian astronomers had seen Halley's comet and various measurements that allowed them to refine the value of n for this apparition to within 17 days , between the 9th and 27th November, 164 BCE.

The tablets talked about a thing they called a Sallamu. They used this word for various bright objects like meteors or fireballs, but they saw this one over several weeks so it could only have been a comet.

The tablets that Stephenson, Yau and Hunger looked at were broken and bits were missing.  They were undated and had writing on both sides.  How could they make sense of them?